Leaders call for agents to keep calm over FNB app

Leaders call for agents to keep calm over FNB app

MAIN IMAGE: Jan le Roux, CE of Rebosa, Mark Coetzee, COO of Private Property and Leo Mlambo, president of National Property Forum

Property leaders cautioned estate agents to keep calm while they engage with First National Bank (FNB) to obtain clarity on the situation. Many agents reacted with anger on FNB’s recent announcement of the latest feature on their banking app that enables their customers to sell their homes privately to one another without estate agents.

Property Professional has just learned that a meeting has been arranged between leaders from the property industry and FNB’s management team.

A statement issued by industry body Rebosa says that “REBOSA has noted, with concern, that FNB has chosen to position a new product in a way that is threatening to real estate practitioners. We are also mindful of the long and good relationship that our industry has had with FNB. With this in mind, we are engaging with FNB to come to a better understanding of their position, in order to help industry participants make informed decisions about their reactions to FNB’s new offering. Whilst we understand that industry participants will want to act strongly and decisively, we also call for calm heads, and would like to afford FNB the opportunity to clarify their position taking our views into consideration”.

Mark Coetzee, COO of Private Property, also issued a statement advising their clients that they are in a process to urgently engage with FNB “to give them the opportunity to respond to the concerns that have been raised”.

“We’ve also received requests from some of our real estate partners to remove their listings from the feed to FNB but would request that you please give us the opportunity to further engage with FNB to find a solution that addresses your concerns. We still believe that a strong relationship with FNB will be beneficial to the stakeholders in Private Property so would really like to find a solution that works for all,” Coetzee said, adding that they appreciate the strong feelings that their clients are feeling on this issue but that they will endeavour to resolve this as quickly as possible.

Since FNB’s announcement of their latest online feature two days ago on Wednesday 31 October, numerous estate agents have voiced their anger with the bank on social media platforms and to industry bodies with many companies threatening to close their accounts with FNB and not refer their clients to the bank for home loan financing.

Chief of the concerns expressed was that this new innovation would be adding further strain to the traditional property sector which is already dealing with major challenges such as the decline in house price sales due to the sluggish economy and increasing competition from cheaper online set-fee property agencies.

Another aspect raised was moral outrage that FNB could take this step to directly compete with an industry that has been supporting the financial institution for decades for instance with referrals for home loan financing.

Leo Mlambo, president of the National Property Forum, an industry body that mostly represents black estate agents, yesterday also expressed concern that this new app would hamper the process of transformation of the property industry. While saying his members will continue to support the bank, he also called on FNB to grant opportunity for dialogue and consultation with them and other stakeholders to discuss this issue and so that the bank could hear their concerns.

Jan le Roux, CE of Rebosa, now calls on estate agents to remain calm and not overreact until there is more clarity.

Property Professional will report on the outcome of the meeting with FNB in next week’s online newsletter. Email your comments to editor@propertyprofessional.co.za.

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